Puyallup Longhouse | U.S. Green Building Council
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LEED BD+C: Homes v3 - LEED 2008

Puyallup Longhouse

LEED Platinum 2012

The Puyallup Tribe has created its own self-sustaining model for its government, its people, and the future of its urban community throughout the reservation and beyond.

Congratulations to Puyallup Tribal Housing Authority as the recipient of the 2012 LEED for Homes award for Innovative Project (Project of the Year)

The Puyallup Longhouse project, The Place of Hidden Waters, is a new model in culturally and environmentally responsive housing for the Puyallup Tribe in the Pacific Northwest. The project is located on the Puyallup reservation on a hill overlooking the Puget Sound tidal flats, which were traditional Puyallup tribal lands. Site development fostered wildlife habitat awareness and protection by clustering development on the eastern half of the site, allowing the heavily wooded and steeply sloped western portion to remain undeveloped. This western portion is part of Julia’s Gulch, an environmentally important wildlife corridor targeted for protection by the City of Tacoma, Washington. Adjacent land is being restored jointly by The Nature Conservancy and the Port of Tacoma.

The Puyallup Tribe has created its own self-sustaining model for its government, its people, and the future of its urban community throughout the reservation and beyond. This LEED for Homes Platinum Certified Housing project includes 10 apartments of housing for tribal members, both families and elders. The project also includes a community building, future sweat lodge, remodel of an existing gymnasium, and restoration of an adjacent habitat corridor. The tribe’s relationship to the environment and its community has a long history of cultural importance with inherent respect for people, the land, and natural systems. This cultural and environmental sensitivity is why the project sought, and often exceeded, the sustainable development goals established in a collaborative workshop process with tribal members, the housing authority, and the design team.

Tribal Councilmember Sylvia Miller commented on the significance of the project: "This is such an honor to be able to have housing for our people. My family, my friends, now have homes. It gives them such pride to have these facilities."

Collaborative Process:

The purpose of the Puyallup Tribal Housing Authority is to provide assistance and opportunities for Native Americans within the Puyallup Tribe’s service area to obtain decent, safe, sanitary, and affordable housing. This mission includes meeting the growing need in the community for affordable housing and revitalization of an older housing development and the provision of a comfortable and stable home for tribal members with the greatest needs. The design team and Puyallup Tribal Housing Authority started the project by walking the site, side by side, and discussing various development goals: To develop a park for the whole community; create a community center; and create beautiful, relevant, and affordable Tribal housing. The final program was developed through a collaboration of the Tribal Council, the Puyallup Housing Authority, the Design Team, and Common Ground, a nonprofit affordable housing development consultant. Once a program was determined, the design was developed through a series of hands-on design workshops with tribal members.

Design Program:

The buildings are designed to emulate the rectangular, shed-roofed form of a traditional Coast Salish longhouse using a variation of the modern townhouse courtyard building. This melding of traditional forms with modern technologies led to a unique and perfect fit between cultural traditions and sustainable development goals. Like a traditional longhouse, the structure has a central, linear common area for gathering and circulation to private dwelling areas. There are no corridors to heat and ventilate. The buildings are elongated in the east/west dimension with unit depths of only 16 to 20 feet. This configuration allows all windows to have a south or north exposure, promotes natural through ventilation, and allows for future active solar strategies (the south facing metal roofs allow for solar panels to be easily clipped to them). With generous roof overhangs, passive solar and daylighting strategies are employed to maximum benefit. Ventilation and illumination were provided in traditional longhouses by removing roof planks. The open roof of the courtyard evokes this historic strategy.

The longhouse strategy also led naturally to compact floor plans, a thin cross section for the units, and an efficient, minimum surface area for the building envelope. The compact floor plans equal less space to heat. Large front and back covered porches serve as outdoor rooms that do not need to be conditioned.


Construction Process:

Once the Tribal Authority made the decision to pursue LEED Homes Platinum Certification, they decided to take charge of the construction process and serve as the builder, employing both skilled and unskilled tribal labor. This created opportunities for tribal members to train on the job in various construction trades and expand their practice for sustainable building construction. The Tribal community has taken pride in the fabrication of new housing, and tribal members have new specialized skills to forward them into new jobs. The design team even partnered with tribal members in the deconstruction of one of the existing buildings on site, preserving its cedar siding for reuse on site for the new community building.

LEED for Homes Building Performance Strategies:

While the traditional forms created a solid base of energy-efficient and healthy housing, modern technologies supplemented the basic design strategy and led to homes that are much more energy-efficient than current Washington State energy code. These technologies included structural insulated panels (SIPs) with excellent air sealing for a tight and well-insulated envelope; triple pane windows; and ground source heat pumps for both domestic hot water and hydronic heating systems. Additionally, the design team employed ENERGY STAR lighting, low-flow water saving plumbing fixtures, and low-VOC paints. Other technologies that further reduce heat loss from the buildings and protect the building envelope include liquid applied water resistive membrane/air barriers, reducing air infiltration; metal roofing with recycled content, increasing durability; and providing a base for future photovoltaics.

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Project details
New Construction - Single Family Affordable
31 Aug 2012